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Root weighs England balancing act ahead of fourth Test

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LONDON: Joe Root admits he faces a ‘balancing act’ as England’s captain tries to avoid burning out his in-form bowling attack in the fourth Test against India.

There are concerns over the workloads of pace bowlers James Anderson and Ollie Robinson after both played key roles in the third Test win at Headingley.

Anderson and Robinson will likely start Thursday’s clash at The Oval.

But having shouldered a big burden over the past three games, each bowling more than 116 overs, Root is concerned about over-working them heading into the final two Tests of the series.

“I think it’s really important we see where everyone is at over the next couple of days, physically. It’s such a tricky balancing act at the minute,” Root on Tuesday. “Trying to manage workloads alongside performance is something in the current climate, with the games coming thick, that is always going to be tricky.

“You come off a win like last week and there’s continuity of confidence and trying to replicate a similar performance, but you’re trying to balance that and make sure you don’t blow someone out and injure someone.

“It’s really tricky and something we’ll have to weigh up really well and get right.”

Chris Woakes is back in the squad and pushing for a long-awaited return to the red-ball side.

Should the Woakes make the team, it would mark his first appearance since being named as England’s Test player of the 2020 season.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare for Woakesy. Whether it’s Covid that’s kept him out — being a close contact — or a freak injury coming down the stairs, it feels like he’s not played a huge amount of cricket,” Root said. “But when he has played he’s been as good as ever. He was our best player last year.

“The white-ball stuff that’s he’s played has been exceptional, getting it to move all over the place, so to have him back around things is great.”

England will make one enforced change to their winning formula, with Jos Buttler having left the squad in preparation for the birth of his second child.

Jonny Bairstow will take over as wicket-keeper, with a vacant batting spot going to Ollie Pope or Dan Lawrence.

“It’s an interesting one. They are two wonderful players who offer a huge amount to English cricket,” Root said.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2021

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